Article: BFI FAN Reflections celebrates four years of innovation in the exhibition sector 

Set up in 2012 with the support of National Lottery funding, the BFI Film Audience Network (BFI FAN) has supported a stronger and more connected approach to growing audiences for UK and international film on the big screen.  

The current iteration of FAN, a collaboration of eight leading venues or film organisations representing the UK nations and regions, with over 1,700 members comprising cinemas, festivals, mixed-arts venues, community cinema and film archives, was launched in 2018 as part of the BFI2022 strategy and – as a result of the COVID pandemic, extended beyond its original duration to March 2023.  

As the BFI2022 strategy period comes to a close, this BFI FAN Reflections review looks at the impact of FAN on audiences and the film exhibition sector from April 2018 – March 2022.  

Highlights include: 

1.6m admissions across the UK 

  • 39% of admissions were from new audiences 
  • 23% of admissions were from the 16-30 age bracket 
  • 52,000 screenings supported around the UK 
  • 140 organisations joined FAN during 2018-2022 which now has over 1,700 members 

It also looks at BFI FAN’s impact on member organisations including access to funding, resources, training, and a network of peers, especially vital during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

“[BFI FAN] support means we can move ahead with our new film strategy…to focus on diverse, independent films refreshing interest and developing new audiences in our community. Funding is very welcome, but equally the expert advice, mentoring and enthusiasm of the FHW (Film Hub Wales) team has given us a tremendous boost.” – BFI FAN Member, Wales  

There are several short case studies of BFI FAN UK wide projects such as the BFI Musicals blockbuster season as well as place-specific highlights such as the work of the Northern Ireland Collective scheme, The Arc’s Bigger Picture Project in Stockton-on-Tees, and Exeter Phoenix’s approach to developing audiences under 25 years old. 

Our UK wide partners have been key to the successful delivery of our ambitious BFI2022 National Lottery Strategy, bringing opportunities to local communities and people of all backgrounds, across the whole of the UK. We are proud of what has been achieved to date and look forward to continuing working with the venues and organisations involved as part of our new Screen Culture 2033 Strategy to ensure the BFI Film Audience Network programme evolves and grows to meet the changing needs of our sector and audiences.” – Ben Luxford, Head of UK Audiences, BFI.

Download the full Reflections document here and browse the Case Studies on The Bigger Picture to see how BFI FAN continues to support its membership nationwide. 

To find out more about the BFI’s recently published 10-year National Lottery Funding Strategy, visit the BFI’s website, or read the recent Screen Culture 2033 announcement

+ BFI Reflections Document

Impact Areas

Focus Areas